Lighting placement is an important part of the planning process, since there’s a big range in fixture types and light quality. Another huge factor in choosing your landscape lighting: Will you use LED, halogen or solar-powered lighting?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.
LED Landscape Lighting
LED, or light-emitting diode, uses as much as 80 percent less energy than halogen and is more efficient than it as well.
Professional grade LED landscape lighting improved a lot in recent years, and the reasons to use LED lighting continues to grow. These lights are great for harsh weather conditions, including Florida’s storms and heat.
Cost is a consideration when looking at a LED system. Bulbs have a high initial cost, sometimes costing $20-40 a bulb versus $4-5 for a similar halogen bulb. That said, LED bulbs last tens of thousands of hours, so not only are you replacing them less frequently (every 10-20 years versus one to two years for halogen), but they require less maintenance.
Long term, thanks to their reduced energy use and lower maintenance requirements, some experts estimate that homeowners break even two to six years after installing a residential LED landscape lighting system.
LED lighting doesn’t perform as well as halogen for wide areas. The light output isn’t as strong. It works best as accent lighting — for adding a romantic glow — but not defining an area. It also works well as a path light or spot illumination.
Halogen Landscape Lighting
Halogen lighting was once the gold standard for landscaping, with a natural and professional look. They effectively cover a wide range of uses, from illuminating a whole house façade, to providing strong spot and accent lights. They do this using an incandescent bulb that requires a lot more electrical energy than LED lights.
The bulbs are inexpensive but need more frequent replacement than their LED counterparts. When installing a halogen-based system, you also need to take special care with the transformer, making sure the proper voltage drop-down and spacing are used. You definitely don’t want to install these systems yourself.
Solar Landscape Lighting
Solar lighting is great for those wanting an easy installation system that’s relatively low cost, low maintenance and with low lighting requirements.
Because solar landscape lighting’s power is stored in connected battery packs, you won’t need to hire an electrician or dig trenches to install wiring. It’s not much harder than sticking them in the ground. There are no electricity bills, as the lighting uses the sun’s power for energy. And if your electricity goes out, you’ll still have beautiful outdoor lighting.
But solar lighting isn’t the best for all your outdoor needs. They’re good for accent and path lighting, and some spotlights, but provide a dimmer light than you’d get with other systems. To make the energy last longer, the lights don’t shine as brightly as other sources. And they need to be in a spot that gets strong sunlight.
Solar light maintenance is relatively minimal, requiring a battery replacement every two years or so. Some solar fixtures are of poor quality and break more frequently, so you may be replacing them more often than other types.
DIY or Hire a Pro?
Want your landscape lighting to really pop by night? Hire a professional designer and installer like GreenEarth. We can help you determine the best type of lighting for your needs and wants, and the optimal arrangement of lighting to feature your property and landscaping.
In addition to planning the best system, a professional installation involves digging trenches and connecting the fixtures, installing the right size transformer (using a licensed electrician), installing the proper lighting controls and timers, and ensuring uniform brightness.
Give us a call at our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.